WWE Raw Report
The Big News: Three of the top four WrestleMania matches were officially announced on Raw.
Raw began with the return of new world champion Chris Jericho following his extended departure from Raw. He said basically nothing but just repeatedly gloated about winning the Elimination Chamber match, which was very amusing. Eventually Edge speared him from behind and announced he would take on Jericho for the title at WrestleMania. This was a good angle and it led immediately into another good angle.
John Cena came out next. He said that Vince McMahon screwed him by forcing him to wrestle again in a singles match after the Elimination Chamber. I don’t see how that’s any more unfair than Sheamus being forced to defend his singles title in a six person match in a Chamber and come in as the first man to boot. In fact, I’d argue Sheamus was screwed significantly worse than Cena.
Cena said he wanted his rematch on Raw, which brought out Vince McMahon to tell him he wouldn’t be getting it. It’s not a big deal, but they should table this routine for a little bit. It’s a good concept in theory because you tease a match and then pull it back for later, but they’ve done it so many times it almost feels like the face is disingenuous in temporarily teasing the fans with a match everyone knows won’t be delivered.
Vince McMahon said that he made a deal with Batista where Batista would attack Bret Hart and Batista would then get a title shot. Vince said Batista won’t defend the title until WrestleMania, and that both Sheamus and Cena are in line for title rematches. Thus, he announced Cena vs. Batista for later on Raw. If Cena won he would get the shot and if Batista won Sheamus would get the shot. Cena looked scurred of the prospect of wrestling Batista.
Maryse beat Gail Kim in the long awaited finals of the women’s title tournament. It’s only the women’s title, but they really shouldn’t have advertised a PPV title match only to yank it during the show and provide it on free TV the next day instead. On the plus side, they gave them a little more time than the average women’s match, which you ought to for a title tournament final. The match itself was okay by WWE women’s match standards.
Gail hit a clothesline and punches early but Maryse grabbed the ropes when Gail went for eat defeat. Maryse went for her implant DDT but Gail reversed into a cradle for two. Gail went for a springboard crossbody but missed. Gail went for a victory roll but Maryse threw her off into the ropes and hit the implant DDT for the pin.
There was a weird moment during the match when Gail was bleeding from her mouth and Lawler brought attention to her mouth but didn’t say she was bleeding. So WWE may actually have a bizarre policy where they won’t even acknowledge someone is bleeding even if it is an accident. I can’t recall if they explicitly mentioned bleeding when it happened on Sunday or the other week on ECW.
Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes met backstage. Rhodes said that he knew DiBiase would betray Orton but that he was still on Orton’s side. Orton said that if anyone was at fault it was himself for teaching Rhodes and DiBiase too well. Orton said he hasn’t been the leader he should be and said that he asked for a six man tag to show Legacy is still on the same page.
Orton left and DiBiase came in (pretty much immediately to the point of implausibility) to ask how the conversation went. Rhodes said almost too well. DiBiase then asked Rhodes if they were sticking to the plan. Rhodes said yes, so the audience was basically clued in that Rhodes and DiBiase were planning to stab Orton in the back.
Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston and Yoshi Tatsu beat Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. They announced Tatsu signed with Raw as a free agent. I’m still wondering where Abraham Washington ends up. Tatsu had some success with kicks early but Legacy took over on Bourne. Rhodes hit the Alabama slam and DiBiase used a head over heels clothesline.
Bourne eventually got the tag to Kingston. Kingston hit a springboard clothesline on DiBiase but Orton cut him off when he went for the boom drop. Orton began working over Kingston as DiBiase and Rhodes whispered to each other. Rhodes tagged in but Orton then hit Rhodes with a DDT. DiBiase got in Orton’s face outside the ring and Orton gave him an RKO on the floor. In the ring Kingston tagged Tatsu. Tatsu hit a kick on Rhodes and tagged in Bourne for the shooting star and the pin.
I assume this is the official breakup for Orton and Rhodes/DiBiase. I have mixed feelings on it. It’s good that they were conscious about not making Orton look like a fool. It’s been obvious that Rhodes and DiBiase can’t be trusted and if Orton got suckered by them there is the risk that it would make him look like a chump. With that said, Rhodes and DiBiase need all the help they can get in this feud and opening the breakup with Orton outsmarting and laying out both of them was the sort of young talent burial at a critical juncture that has led to such a stale main event picture.
Shawn Michaels came out for a promo. He said that his explanation for what he did at the Elimination Chamber isn’t complicated. He did what he had to. Michaels said he knew that wouldn’t be popular but that he can live with that. He added that he knows his action spur a reaction from Undertaker. In fact, he was counting on it.
Undertaker joined Michaels. He had weird yellow marks on his face, maybe from the accident yesterday, and looked positively ancient. He said that Michaels had his attention. Michaels told Undertaker that he wrestled a nearly perfect match last year, but he can’t live with that. Michaels said Undertaker ignored him so he had to get Taker’s attention.
In the middle of this serious and crucial promo for one of the biggest matches of the year, the crowd decided to start chanting “what” at Michaels. “What” seriously may be the most irritating fan development in wrestling history. Shut the fuck up, you obnoxious, narcissistic, ADD-suffering dimwits.
Michaels told the Undertaker to wrestle him at WrestleMania and get his revenge. Undertaker responded that he would on one condition, that Michaels put up his career. Michaels said that if he can’t beat Undertaker he has no career. This was an excellent angle with Michaels as usual doing a great job.
As for the career vs. title stipulation, I have mixed feelings. I think it’s a nice hook to build interest in the match. But ultimately WWE is boxing itself into a corner. Either Undertaker’s streak ends for no good reason or more likely they do yet another stipulation match knowing full well that they’re going to renege on the stipulation. It’s even worse here because people are going to remember and care more when they go back on their word. I don’t see why they couldn’t achieve the exact same goal by having Michaels simply imply he’ll leave forever if he loses.
Christian beat Carlito in the first money in the bank qualifier. Now that they are doing money in the bank again, Miz is such an obvious pick to win this year. He fits the gimmick perfectly in just about every way. They also introduced a couple of the NXT rookies here. Heath Slater cut an obnoxious promo and Michael Tarver cut a very good little one.
They announced Christian has signed with Raw. I’m surprised they didn’t do a storyline bidding war between Raw and Smackdown for one or two of the top ECW guys to make their debuts on a new show seem important. That’s the whole reason I like “free agency” better than “drafts.” You can make it feel like the wrestlers have agency and goals they’re moving towards. Instead, this just felt like another draft with the guys randomly distributed by the promotion. It’s not a big deal though, and moving over the ECW guys should bolster the depth on Raw and Smackdown.
Christian missed a crossbody off the top early in the match. Carlito hit a knee lift but Christian countered with an inverted DDT. Christian climbed the ropes but Carlito caught him and hit the roll of the dice for two. Christian went for the kill switch. Carlito reversed into a springboard elbow attempt but that was countered into another kill switch attempt. Carlito reversed again but Christian sent him into the post and finally hit the kill switch for the pin. This was a very fun little match.
Jewel and bull rider Ty Murray did two segments on the show. Earlier Jewel and Jillian Hall got into a singing confrontation and Jewel slapped Jillian. Here, they did a dreadful segment which involved riding a mechanical bull. The WWE women came out and rode it. It wasn’t much of a competition because it went slow and nobody was close to being thrown off.
Miz and Big Show came out to point out what a waste of time this was which led to Murray challenging Show to ride the bull. He of course failed and they played it for comedy but it was one of those segments where nobody is laughing except the guffawing announcers. Three hours later Murray and Jewel made a match with Miz and Show against MVP and Mark Henry.
Miz Show beat Mark Henry and MVP. They showed Bryan Danielson watching backstage, and again the commentary focused on Danielson. They talked about how the internet is angry that Miz is Danielson’s coach given how long Danielson has been wrestling for and how Miz claims Danielson has no personality. It’s at least to me a very intriguing angle and I’m quite curious how the whole thing will turn out. Hopefully they don’t bury Danielson to spite the internet.
Show hit a spear on MVP and followed with chops and a leg drop. Henry got the tag in. He used head butts on Show and a corner avalanche. Miz came off the ropes but was caught with the world’s strongest slam. As Henry turned around Show nailed him with the knockout punch for the pin.
They announced the next entrant into the WWE Hall of Fame is Wendi Richter. It’s a joke pick, but whatever, it’s only the WWE Hall of Fame. She’s probably marginally more deserving than Koko B. Ware given her six month peak was fairly notable. They also announced Cheech and Chong as guest hosts next week as well as Orton vs. DiBiase.
They replayed the Bret Hart angle from last week. Vince said that he was considering facing Bret at Mania, but that now he just wanted to say he had nothing to do with Bret’s accident. Vince invited Bret back next week on Raw to say farewell. After a commercial break they already announced that Bret had accepted. This setup seems to suggest they are going to do the story that Bret faked the car accident. I guess we’ll see how it comes across.
John Cena beat Batista via DQ. Batista kept ducking out between the ropes and then he kicked Cena low for the DQ. He then beat the hell out of Cena. He kicked Cena in the head, threw him into the post, smashed him into the barricade and rammed him into the post on the outside. He then gave him four very hard and spaced out chair shots to the back. This was a great demonstration that a chair shot to the back can be just as effective and dramatic as a shot to the head. I’m very glad that WWE changed their policy on that. This was a very strong angle to close a strong show. I’m really digging heel Batista.
Last week’s bad Raw proved to be a blip rather than a trend. This week’s Raw was an excellent show full of interesting and fun angles from top to bottom. I’m greatly enjoying the WrestleMania build this year and now that they have the major angles announced we’re heading into the home stretch.